Kenya's Covid-19 Death Toll Rises to 659 After 9 New Fatalities

22 September 2020

Kenya on Tuesday reported 139 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections to 37,218, the Ministry of Health said.

Giving the Ministry of Health daily updates on coronavirus infections, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said that out of 1,774 samples collected from across the county over the last 24 hours, 125 Kenyans and 14 foreigners tested positive for the virus.

Nairobi had the highest number of cases at 46, followed by Kisumu (44), Mombasa (nine), Kajiado (nine), Kericho (nine), Kiambu (six), Laikipia (four), Mahcakos (three) and Nakuru two.

Garissa, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Makueni, Meru, Embu and Turkana recorded one case each.

Dr Mwangangi also announced that nine more people succumbed to the virus bringing the total number of fatalities to 659.

Another 198 patients were declared cured. Dr Mwangangi said 46 patients were on home-based care and 152 in various hospitals across the country.

At the same time, the Ministry of Health relaxed burial protocols of coronavirus bodies in line with revised World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Public health officials handling the bodies will no longer be required to wear full white hazmat suits as has been the case in the last six months.

Family members will be allowed to handle the bodies and conduct final rights in accordance with their culture.

This brings to an end months of agony and stigma to families of the deceased. The guidelines issued in March when the first case was reported in Kenya were painful and against the funeral rites of most communities.

The recent move has been informed by new evidence suggesting that Covid-19 bodies may not be as infectious as initially thought, Dr Mwangangi said.

“As new information becomes available, the ministry continuously improves strategies in fighting this infectious disease. Families and communities will play a greater role in the burial of loved ones who succumb to Covid-19,” Dr Mwangangi said.

Initially, public health officials, dressed in full personal protective equipment, would take over the burial ceremony as family members and relatives of the deceased watched from a distance.

“The families will take the centre stage in the ceremonies, with health officials only guiding the process. They will also allow safe burial rites dictated by religion or culture of the deceased person,” Dr Mwangangi said.

Kenyans were, however, told not to misconstrue the revised guidelines to mean coronavirus is no longer a public health risk.

Head of Public Health at the ministry Francis Kuria said State officials will not leave bodies to family members entirely but would be supervise the burials from a distance.

The recommended PPEs shall be worn by family members handling the body while people will not be allowed to kiss the body, in religions and cultures which allow that.

Also, family members will not be allowed to wash and or embalm the body and will also not be allowed to open the casket.

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